31 January 2012

Perodua Alza SR - basic version coming next week

Perodua will launch a strip-out version of the Alza sub-MPV, which will be called Alza SR. The model is due to be announced next week. I haven't obtained the precise detail yet on the cut-spec, as well as an indicative pricing, but among cost cutting measures include the deletion of rear wiper, rear screen water nozzle and a different seat fabric. The chromed-finish hood garnish will be gone too, making way for a color coded version. There's not much to be deleted anymore from the Standard Alza, as it is quite spartan with the lack of airbags and ABS as well as a bare-look interior by the use unpainted interior plastic panel and amber meter binnacle and console lighting. The audio system for Standard already features no USB and Bluetooth function. The spoiler and fog lamps are already also deleted in the Standard spec. The 15" alloy wheel is replaced by a cheaper steel rims with wheelcap. What can be deleted anymore?
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Perhaps the immobilizer will be gone too? Or a single-DIN audio system will make an appearance? As it is now, the cheapest Alza is the Standard Spec with manual transmission, which is priced at RM55,503 for Peninsular region is solid color. How much lower can it go? RM 50,000?

30 January 2012

Proton P3-21a - final design jigsaw revealed

The final mystery of Proton much spied P3-21a has been revealed, its the rear end design. Funtasticko blog has revealed the rear end design of the P3-21a. It conform the existence of light panel on the trunk lid, but the extend of its coverage is limited to the outer edge only, not full-width like the Tuah concept. However, there is a chrome bars that run along the trunk width.

The car in this photo is believed to be the same car as the one that revealed the front end of the P3-21a last November, perhaps the "releaser" want to release in stages to keep the hype up. Anyway, the car has some Germanic overtones to its simplistic character; the crisp trunk edge lie, rear combi outer hosing ala Audi in its spartan and subtle graphic (but Audi has years worth of merry LED arrangement) and while the bumper is mounted high up, the trunk lid panel actually cut almost half of it to give an acceptable loading height. The paper wrap actually covered the rear flanks a bit, but one can expect a clean chunk of surface there with minimalist surface interplay. So this Italdesign Guigiaro masterpiece huh?

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The front end was displayed back in November. Just a recap the uncovered car such a simplistic design too, but has an uplifted detail character in the shape of LED DRL insert along the bottom edge of the headlamp, which inner graphic that include black backdrop, with prominent projector(maybe?) headlamp in chrome surround that together with the side indicator, stands proud in contrast with their blackened surround. Consistent with simple bare chrome strip at the back, there is a single thin chrome line that run parallel to the hood leading edge that intersect with large proton badge. The radiator grille addenda is limited to just three fins that possibly design to hark back to original Proton Saga from 1985. This is in absolute contrast with the lower grille garnish that feature a more modern mesh pattern. Overall, one could say that P3-21a will be a  reasonably easy to eye kind of design, with minimal jarring touch that could offend some conservative people. More after the jump.

29 January 2012

Ultra lightweight conrod concept from MAHLE

MAHLE has concluded the study of ultra light weight connecting rod (ULWC) sometimes in 3rd quarter last year. The aim of the research was to demonstrate the advantage of minimization of the cranktrain mass in optimizing the engine efficiency.  With ever tightening and stringent regulation in fuel economy and CO2 emission reduction, it is a paramount important for each of the vehicle subsystems to find their own means to contribute towards the new target. For powertrain engineer, the aim is to increase the engine efficiency through the reduction of friction and mass by capitalizing on new advanced materials as well as more superior predictive design tool.

One of the main contributor to the engine friction is the cranktrain mass. The cranktrain system consists of connecting rod (conrod), conrod bearings, piston (including pin and ring) and the crankshaft itself. The reduction of conrod mass is important, as it drives further mass reduction for the rest of the cranktrain system.

The figure above shows the evolution of the conrod design as Mahle iterated the design towards the most optimum mass vs strength criteria. The base design parameters were derived from Chrysler 3.6L Pentastar engine that produced 292bhp@6200rpm and 353Nm@4000rpm. The original conrod in this case is Mahle 36MnVS4 forged steel. This conrod is already among the class leader in terms of weight, 548g and has a minimum fatigue safety factor of 1.6 (!) in the shank. The main design consideration of ULWC is to optimize the big end integrity, small end hydrodynamics and shank robustness against buckling and fatigue.

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Four iterations of  Finite Element Analysis (FEA) were performed and Mahle achieved a staggering 27% weight reduction! The base material used was 46MnVS6 which is the strongest volume production material suited for fracture split construction, which met the criteria for exceptional properties and good machinability without secondary operation such as heat treatment. It has  a mean fatigue strength of 496MPa which is 20% higher than  the premium 3% Cu powder forged alloys. As for the new design, it adopted a bushless stepped small end and the pin bore itself featured forged-in oil pocket which was hydrodynamically optimized. As for the shank, the I-beam with optimized cross-section with 4:1 ratio between oscillating and cantilever moduli of inertia was developed. This way, the buckling stress of each plane during engine operation is made equivalent to reduce the risk of buckling. The analysis optimization results in 2.3mm of web thickness for the shank beam and the edge radii was used 1.5mm. The blend of the shank to the big end is with the closed bolt holes to improve structural integrity by eliminating the notch factor of a through hole. More details after the jump.

28 January 2012

BMW updated the X6 and X6M models

BMW has revealed the details on the updated X6 model ahead of its official unveiling at Geneva Motorshow in March. The world's first mass-produced Sport Activity Coupe (SAC) was introduced 3 years ago and BMW has sold over 150,000 of them worldwide, exceeding their own internal original sales target. It is hardly surprising as the SAC gets in very well with the rich guy (& lady) due to its highly expressive exterior design that symbolize everything else bar subtleness.

For the 2013 update, the front styling of an X6 has been given an updated fascia with the new front bumper design, more intricate headlamp graphic and a more 3D radiator grille. The most prominent change is the positioning of fog lamp within the matt silver housing in the upper part of the bumper outer air intake. The radiator grille vertical bars are now angled at their lower roots, making the BMW trademark kidney grille stands out conspicuously in the front end. The angled section of the bars is similar in vertical position with the headlamp base, creating a virtual horizontal line across the width of the X6, accentuating the perception of width of the vehicle. The headlamp has been updated too, with an option of the LED adaptive unit. The standard unit is a xenon type, with new ring design that flattened off the their top and bottom section. For the X6M, the adaptive LED headlight is a standard item.
At the back, X6 LCi has been given a new tail lamp featuring two horizontal light banks, illuminated by LED. This creates a brand's hallmark night design with harmoniously glowing light, consistent with recent BMW offerings.
With the LCi model too, BMW has added new color choice; Marrakesh Brown Metallic, Orion Silver Metallic and Midnight Blue Metallic. These colors are among the nine metallic colors available and also available are two solid colors. More detail after the jump.

Caterham F1 launched its 2012 challenger - CT-01

Caterham F1 team has launched its 2012 Formula 1 challenger, the CT-01 ahead of any other Formula 1 team so far. The team that was formerly known as Team Lotus/Lotus Racing has opted out from their two years on conservative design and started fresh with more radical design departures compared to T128 that competed in 2011 F1. Among the notable design features are the stepped nose design, tightly packaged sidepod and the inclusion of KERS for the first time.

From the side profile, the stepped nose is clearly visible. The front cone is noticeably lower than the tub towards the centre length-wise of the car. This is due to the newly enforced 2012 rules that stipulates that the nose cone is pegged at 550mm height after the front wheel centre line. The central tub height is as per current rules which maxed at 625mm tall. FIA imposed the height limit to prevent the team from raising the nose further up in their quest to maximize the airflow underneath the car leading towards the diffuser. This is more important than ever as the exhaust blown diffuser has been outlawed, hence there is an expected reduction is downforce.
The exhaust gas now exits the car from the top of the sidepod, ala the periscope outlet that was popular before the blown diffuser debuted. The sidepod of CT-01 is heavily tapered towards the bottom, and plunging towards the back, reminiscent of the all-conquering RB7. The rear fin exit duct is a familiar sight from the 2011 champion too. However, this is hardly surprising as Caterham F1 has maintained the deal to use the Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox, which necessitates the similar packaging and the pull rod rear suspension setup. More after the jump.

26 January 2012

BMW M Performance Automobile debuted a trio of tri-turbo diesel cars

BMW M Performance Automobile is a new sub-division within the BMW AG, and is tasked in producing a wider choice of performance-oriented model independent of the M Division. With the debut of the sub-brand, in comes a trio of tri-turbocharged diesel powered all-wheel-drive cars/SAV. The vehicles in questions are made of a couple of F10/F11 5 Series, an X5 and an X6.

The model introduced are M550d xDrive (Sedan and Touring), X5 M50d and X6 M50d. As the name implies, all models channelled their drive to all four wheels, via an 8 speed automatic gearbox. The common powertrain for all of these variants are a newly developed 3.0L in-line six cylinder diesel engine, forced fed by three turbochargers. The 2,993cc engine comes with all the latest three turbochargers with variable geometry turbine, common-rail direct injection with piezo injectors with pressure of up to 2,200 bar. The engine produced 381bhp of power in the rpm range of 4,000-4,400rpm and a earth-pulling 740Nm of torque between 2,000-3,000rpm.

As the vehicles which this new superb powertrain varies greatly in size, the performance is independent of each others too. The fastest among this trio ( or 4 considering F10 and F11) is the M550d xDrive sedan, with its 4.7s 100km/h sprint. Fuel consumption is rated as 6.3L/100km with Euro 6 exhaust emission standard. The Touring version of this 5 Series is 0.2s slower and consume 0.1L/100km. Negligible difference really. The heavier X6 M50d is a tad slower at 5.3s century sprint and consumed 7.7L/100km of fuel and Euro 5 rated. The X5 M50d is the slowest-sprinting among these family with its 5.4s 100km/h sprint and slightly more frugal than its coupe-SUV sibling at 7.5L/100km. All models have a common 250km/h top speed. Has diesel cars have been as desirable as this? More detail and photos after the jump.

Toyota returned to Le Mans with TS030 Hybrid LMP1

Toyota will compete in 2012 Le Mans with its new TS030 Hybrid LMP1 racer. Sets to compete with the dominant diesel challenger such as Audi, as Peugeot has already departed, Toyota has banked its hope on what it dubbed as THS-R ( Toyota Hybrid System - Racing), essentially a 3.4L naturally-aspirated V8 hooked to a Nisshinbo hybrid system that does away without batteries.

The deletion of the battery systems were replaced by capacitors that performed as a storage medium.  Whereas the 3.4L 90deg V8 engine sits midship in the carbon fibre LMP1 chassis developed by Toyota Motorsport GmbH driving the rear wheel, Toyota is yet to decide whether the hybrid system will power either front or rear wheel. The regulation stipulated the allowance of an all-wheel-drive, but both end can't be driven simultaneously. 

The racecar is 4,650mm long, 2,000mm wide and 1,030mm tall. The V8 engine channelled its drive to the rear wheel via a 6 speed sequential gearbox made with aluminium casing. Independent double-wishbones suspension with push-rod activation torsion bar spring suspended the car on its 18" rims.
Toyota has confirmed that they will field two TS030 at Le Mans this year. The first car will be driven a combo of Kazuki Nakajima, Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre. The car will make it debut in 6 hours Spa Endurance championship. The drivers of the second for the Le Mans are to be confirmed at  a later date. For more technical information on the Toyota TS030, head to Mulsanne Corner Le Mans. More photos of the TS030 after the jump.

25 January 2012

VW Up! now in 5-door bodystyle

Volkswagen has released the information about the 5 door version of the Up! hatchback, formerly launched as a 3 door variant in August last year. The 5 door Up! retained the 3 door 2,420m wheelbase and 251L of boot space, so the addition of the door are the results of the floor panel re-packaging rather then a simple extension to the floor itself.

Rear passengers in the five-door up! benefit from exactly the same space as those in the three-door model, with 947 mm of headroom (versus 993 mm in the front) and 789 mm of legroom.  The rear seat base is set slightly higher than that in the front, at 378 mm (versus 306 mm) giving passengers a clearer view of the road ahead.

As well as front and side airbags, ABS with Hydraulic Brake Assist, Isofix child seat preparation in the rear and standard ESP (on all but the entry level Take up! model), the up! can be ordered with an optional City Emergency Braking system.  This uses sensors to scan the space ahead of the vehicle, applying the brakes automatically if it detects that the car is about to hit an object in front. The Maps & More infotainment system is a mobile Personal Infotainment Device that was developed to organise navigation, telephone, information and entertainment.  It is removable, but unlike many other similar systems of this type, it melds with the car’s network of systems and can be used to view vehicle information, such as the display of the parking sensors (where fitted).  The system is standard on the High up! model and above, and optional on the rest of the range. More after the jump.

24 January 2012

Peugeot T73 spotted in Juru R&R

Fellow blogger Arenakereta has spotted the lightly camouflaged Peugeot T73 in Juru during the CNY holiday. According to the news in 2010, the T73 is due to be launched by Nasim in 2012, after quite a lengthy CKD development period as the model was originally launched in Beijing Auto Show 2010.
The T73, or Peugeot 408 as it is known in China is essentially a sedan model derived from the 308 hatchback. Don't confused yourself with the 308 sedan, which is only slightly smaller and was launched in Chengdu Auto Show last year. The Peugeot T73 408 measured 4,680mm long, 1,815mm wide and 1,525mm tall. The wheelbase has been extended from the base 308 to 2,710mm long. For comparison, the 308 Sedan is a tad smaller at 4,558 x 1,805 x 1,505mm and 2,612mm wheelbase.
For China market, Peugeot 408 is available with two engine options. The engine line-up is basically similar to the one in the recently introduced 308 Sedan, namely 1.6L(106PS@5750rpm & 142Nm@4000rpm) and 2.0L(147PS@6000rpm & 200Nm@4000rpm) engines. Transmission choices are 4 speed automatic or 5 speed manual. However, we could pray and hope that the Malaysian-assembled car shares the excellent 1.6L turbo and 6 speed automatic like the 308 Turbo available here, even if only for the top-line model. More after the jump.

23 January 2012

Proton rally team retired in Monte-Carlo S-WRC

It could have been a dream start of S-WRC season for Proton rally team to get its maiden win in a debut season in a season opener rally round. After climbing into the overall top 10 in the opening day, the S2000 Satria Neo moved into overall 9th and took the lead of S-WRC in the second day, in the hands of Per Gunnar Andersson after the S-WRC leader, Sebastien Ogeir crashed out in his Skoda Fabia S2000.

Andersson continued to build up his lead against his nearest challenger, Kevin Abbring in his Skoda Fabia S2000. Andersson stretched his S-WRC lead from 23 seconds to 1 minute 40 seconds. Meanwhile, the legendary Sebastian Loeb continue to dominate the rally at the front, comfortably leading by 2 minutes ahead of Dani Sordo in his Mini. More after the jump.

21 January 2012

Who will succeed Datuk Seri Syed Zainal?

The takeover bid has been completed, now the interesting part has arrived. What sort of changes will happen to Proton? Or rather more important, what is the magnitude of the changes and how will it impact Proton current leaders?

There is a strong news that DRB-Hicom's Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary will place his own "general" to take charge of his newly-owned Proton. He has put his own man, Datuk Khalid Abdol Rahman as POS Malaysia head, displacing Datuk Syed Faisal Albar when DRB-Hicom take charge.As DRB-Hicom share in Proton rises from zero to 42.7% when the transaction has been completed, it is just a matter of time before some changes will happen. Read more after the jump.

19 January 2012

BMW 3 Series F30 is coming in March 2012

BMW Malaysia has announced that the new 3 Series F30 will be launched in Malaysia in March, just a month after the new BMW sport sedan make it to the delivery in other world market in February. Seems that BMW fans (actually should be interpreted as BMW fans with money of course) do not need to wait too long to enjoy the new BMW models.

BMW 335i M Sport illustration - photo from Bimmerpost
BMW Malaysia has made that remark when they were announcing that 2011 has been a record year for BMW Malaysia, with 24% greater volume compared to the year 2010. In 2011, BMW Malaysia sold 5,604 group vehicles comprising of 5,003 BMWs, 301 Minis and 300 Motorrad. Out of the BMW car sold, almost 20% are the diesel engined version, indicating a growing customer confidence in BMW EfficientDynamics concept.

Moving into 2012, BMW Malaysia will continue their sustainable technology offerings in Malaysia. Geoffrey Briscoe, MD of BMW Malaysia also called for a modernize legislative structure where the tax should not be imposed based on engine capacity alone, but also to include the measures of engine emission level. It is not a surprise as BMW has also moved towards engine downsizing, notably with the recent introduction of TwinPower 2.0L in both 520i and 528i. BMW Malaysia will also bring in the ActiveHybrid series of vehicle, although these cars will not qualify for the tax exemption like other hybrids in Malaysia (Prius and CT200h for example) because there's no BMW hybrids with less than 2,000cc engine capacity.

Now, the F30 is coming so quick to Malaysian market. This is good for BMW fans with money. For me, it is still and excuse to continue dreaming until the CKD-ed F30 M Sport is available. Perhaps its time for a job change to expedite the dream to own a brand-new Bimmer?


18 January 2012

A trio of sporty Mercedes launched in Malaysia

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has introduced a trio of sporty model to satisfy the upper-end client appetite for imposing yet understated sportscar with three-pointed star on their hood (or grille in this case). The models they brought in are Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Mercedes SLK and Mercedes CLS, arranged in the order of wealth required to own one. All three are CBUs and offered in a limited model variant.
The C-Class coupe is stylish 2 door coupe, with distinctive face from the latest and probably the prettiest C-Class of all generation. The tighter rear end styling makes the car appears more lithe and athletic than the sedan sibling. For now, MB Malaysia is offering this car in two model variant, C180 and C250 BlueEFFICIENCY. Both cars are powered by an inline-4 cylinder engine with a capacity of 1,796cc and features an electronically-controlled direct-injection with a forced-fed induction. In C180 guise, the engine produced 156bhp@5000rpm and 250Nm@1600-4200rpm while in the C250 guise, the engine produced 204bhp@5500rpm and 310Nm@2300-4300rpm. Performance quoted figures are 8.9s for 100km/h sprint and 223km/h of top speed for C180 Coupe, and 7.2s and 240km/h for C250. Both model channelled their drive to the rear wheel via 7 speed 7GTronic transmission. MB Malaysia has priced the C180 Coupe and C250 Coupe at RM305,888 and 388,888 respectively. More after the jump.

17 January 2012

BMW TwinPower 4 cylinder spawned a "25i" guise

In somewhat an expected move, BMW has released another state of tune for their 4 cylinder TwinPower turbocharged engine series, the N20. Complementing the current "20i" and "28i" guises is the new "25i" guise, which kicks out a familiar 218bhp@5000rpm and 310Nm@1350-4800rpm. In comparison, the "20i" version delivers 184bhp/270Nm while the "28i" version pumps out 245bhp/350Nm.

The N20 is a new series of small capacity engine utilizing its TwinPower turbocharged concept. The engine makes use of twin-scroll turbocharger, high precision injection, Valvetronic and double VANOS. It is part of BMW engine downsizing initiative where the punch of the bigger capacity engine is delivered by forced-fed small capacity engine, while retaining the small engine fuel efficiency.

The engine was launched with the updated BMW 1 series as part of the extended engine availability for the 5 door version of BMW compact hatchback. In this application, the 125i is capable of 6.5 seconds sprint to 100 km/h for the 8-speed automatic version en route to its 243 km/h top speed. Fuel efficiency is quoted as 6.4L/100km and CO2 emission of just 154g/km. It is then just a matter of time before the new F30 325i and F10 525i badge make an appearance!

In a simultaneous move, the 1 Series has been given new diesel engine too. The first one is the 116d EfficientDynamics Edition, while the other one is 125d. The 1.6L 116d ED emits an impressive 99g/km of CO2 and deliver 116bhp@4000rpm and 260Nm@1750-2500 rpm. Diesel consumption is quoted as 3.8L/100km. The performance figure is 10.5 seconds century sprint and 195 km/h top speed. This engine is offered too on F30 316d where performance is quoted slightly differently with 11.3 seconds 100 km/s sprint and 202 km/h of top speed.

Power-hungry environmentalist should however look for 125d. With a petrol-rivalling 218bhp@4400rpm, and V8 rivalling 450Nm of torque delivered between 1500-2500 rpm. The 2.0L turbo-diesel engine is sufficient to sprint the F20 to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and a 240km/h of top speed. Fuel consumption is rated at 4.8L/100km and  126g/km of CO2 for the 8 speed automatic version. More after the jump.

16 January 2012

Khazanah Nasional divested Proton to DRB-Hicom

The wait is finally over. Khazanah Nasional Bhd has confirm that it has divested its interest in Proton Holdings Bhd worth RM1.291 billion. It is the biggest Khazanah divestment yet, for its controlling stake of 42.7% at RM5.50 pershare.

Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said the deal is a significant milestone in a move to place the GLC in a more competitive footing. Yet the move is till regarded as nationalistic as the national car maker is still owned by Malaysian entity, as the DRB-Hicom is controlled by Tan Sri Syed Mukhtar Al-Bukhary, and Proton will have the access to global OEM technology through DRB lines of alliance especially on the global assembling and distribution of global OEM products. It could potentially do the contract manufacturing to increase the utilization of Proton manufacturing plant, which long has been under utilized. With the Pekan's assembly complex combined together with Proton existing Shah Alam and especially Tanjung Malim plant, there is a huge potential waiting to be unlocked.

The manufacturing arm could even be setup to stand alone, as a separate entity and can be goes for listing. This will turn Proton into somekind of multi-entity, with the vehicle development controlled by "current Proton" while the manufacturing arm is under other entity. Same goes for sales and service division.

There's a also a potential of Proton tapping into the manufacturing arm contract, by basing their new cars on the product that will then be produced in their facilities. Hence, Malaysian can finally get a world-class cars designed by world-class engineers with global quality excellence. 

The announcement today is what has been expected, since Proton and DRB-Hicom counter has been suspended today from trading. The buyer selection is however is not a surprise, as other bids are perhaps weaker in potential, or appeared to be too "foreign" to be selected. Among the other runner are MBO by Datuk Seri Mohd Nadzmi, consortium of Genii Capital and Sri Arumugam and even NAZA group has launched their own bid. 

Now that the sales has been finalized, can we start selling off the lost-making subsidary?

15 January 2012

2012 Toyota Avanza Malaysia Spec - technical review

It would be pointless to dwell about the ladder frame chassis and ageing drivetrain combo in the new 2012 Toyota Avanza, as those arguments are, well, pointless. Remember each and every times we submit the project deliverables to the client where while our deliverables are superb ( it should be or else we would have been sacked), although what the client didn't know is that we made it using our good old equipment. Think about delivering engine structural analysis with the meshing work done using pirated cheap pre-processing software!

Toyota engineering prowess has indicated that there isn't a need to have a state-of-the-art monocoque chassis to accommodate 7 people and their luggage in "price-related" comfort. A properly tuned body bolted on a ladder frame should do the job. Not only it is simpler to design, and less sensitive to the advanced structural analysis, it is easier to construct, modified and modular. Hence, cheaper too. A properly tuned suspension, with strategic damping sheet placement can deliver a reasonable NVH quality. Talk about simple, good engineering design practise. Same goes with the drivetrain, if one's engine has a reasonably good spread of torque and reasonably powerful to drive the small MPV with sensible driver behind the wheel, why would you want to turbocharged it? Similar analogy goes for the 4 speed automatic transmission too. Being reasonable is the buzzword here.

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What goes beyond reasonable is the level of engineering design detail, and prowess of Toyota engineers which will leave the rest of Asian engineers in their wake. Read on.

Exterior Design
While the outgoing Avanza is as slab sided as a 80's building, the new one offers more 3D element. The front end is dominated with an intricately designed headlamp, not unlike the JDM Toyota Passo Sette in its silhouette with the kick back lower edge. The top-of-the-range S model you see here has an entirely different radiator grille and bumper design. This effectively means that the top version is no longer a regular version with slapped-on bodykits. The entire envelope is curvier, with stretched headlamps and body surfacing giving the 2012 Avanza quite a chunky appearance.
This is further emphasized by the rear end styling. The D-pillar mounted rear combi is gone and replaced with a wrapped-around item that comes with a very modern outlook. The bulging profile and stretched pointy look of it lend some dynamism in the design. While the overall silhouette is unmistakably mundane MPV, the sheet metal at the back has been inject with some style. The tail gate outer panel has a lot of creases going on it, preventing a brick-slab look. Rear spoiler is standard for all model, including the cheapest 1.3E version. 

Interior Design
This is the section where the Toyota engineer's capability leave everyone in the dust. Talk about the a practicality. The front and rear door trim lower pocket has been design to hold bottles, cans and cups. Not alternately but simultaneously. Refer the photos below.
The interior is shaded in dark for all version. No worry to spoil the beige interior this time around. The silver accents are applied on the power window panel on the door trim. The printed motif, which appeared garish on the 2012 Myvi, is just fine here. In fact, the longitudinally aligned motif raise some element of style of what is otherwise sombre cabin.
The IP has been extensively redesigned from ground up as far as the outgoing Avanza is concern. The new IP is not only more stylish, but is has been mounted lower to aid the air of spaciousness to the cabin. Toyota stylists play with texture here in their effort to spice up the plastic, which otherwise is just a cheap hard black material. While Proton stylist goes organic for Exora whole IP top portion, Toyota saves the money and textured the part closer to the reaching hand instead. More after the jump.

14 January 2012

2012 Kia Cee'd exterior styling released

Kia has released the photo of their European Kia Cee'd model earlier this week with single frontal image. Now the exterior sets have been fully released, with the side profile and rear fascia revealed for the first time. The new Cee'd followed the trend set by current Kia model in adopting a sharply defined character line, with prominent lights and grille as well as well-decorated body panel, preventing a slab sided looks to all its car.

The front and is characterized by more sculpted version of Kia tiger corporate grille, with a more elaborate and elongated outline. The outward pointing of the grille vertical part lends a more aggressive stance when combined with wide-opening lower radiator intake, which the slim opening in the middle, steeply enlarged at the outer edge while housing an accented fog lamp casing. The headlamp features the LED DRL at its lower area, while the hoof is crisply indented at the central portion, giving a dynamics look at the front end. 
Not unlike the recently launched Kia Optima K5, the designer did not run out of their creativity as they progressed from front to the back. The outer part of the rear combi features a character line than run upward from the bumper. While the graphic itself lacks any dramatic features, it lends a mature looks to the rear fascia, especially with garnish-free rear tail gate panel. The rear bumper is also maturely flat, punctuated by only the license plate housing and a blackened garnish adopting similar trend to the front, lower bumper grille. More after the jump.

13 January 2012

2013 Porsche Boxster unveiled - a stunner, lighter and more economical

Porsche has revealed the stunning third generation Boxster ahead of its official unveiling in Geneva Motorshow, scheduled in March 2012. The all-new open top 2 seater has been thoroughly updated inside out, skinned with what many reckoned to be the best looking Boxster ever.
The front end of the new Boxster is a clear evolution from the current model, with familar large air intakes on the side flanking a lower inner one. The character lines are now more prominently featured on the front bumper, one above the intake+indicator unit and the lower one running long the sills. The bigger styling differences are mainly on the side and rear view.
The side air intake are now characterized by the character line that start well from the door. This give the 2013 some resemblance to the legendary Carrera GT side intakes. The sills are deeper indented, with the lower edge clearly visible.

The rear end design is where the biggest revolution can be found. Gone is the slippery tail profile of the last two Boxsters, the 2013 model has seen the duck tail-style lip integrated into the tail. The up-kick profile is even integrated with the tail lamp, giving a cohesive appearance, yet muscular hard-edge look.

Customary to Porsche tradition, the new Boxster comes in two guise, the Standard and Boxster S model. There are some styling differentiation between the two. Among the  differences are the slats on the front outer air intakes. On Boxster, the slats are body colored, while on the S model, they are finished in black, giving an impression of a larger opening. At the back, the exhaust pipe cutter is single oval item on the Boxster, while the Boxster S gets a twin circular item.

Both variant of the new Boxster is powered by the mid-mounted flat-6 engine equipped with direct injection system and a host of efficiency enhancer such as electric energy recuperation and start/stop function. The standard Boxster is powered by a 2.7L flat-6 engine producing 265bhp@6700rpm of power and 280Nm of torque at rpm range of 4500-6500rpm. The Boxster S meanwhile is powered by 3.4L version of the same engine producing 315bhp@6700rpm and 360Nm@4500-5800rpm. Both engine has a high compression ratio of 12.5:1. Transmission option are 7 speed PDK or 6 speed manual with dual-mass flywheel and self adjusting clutch. No manual 7 speeder from the new Carrera here!

Acceleration to 100km/h can be achieved in 5.2 seconds for the standard Boxster on PDK transmission with Sport+ pack, while the manual-shifter can achieve the same milestone in 5.5 seconds. The more powerful Boxster S century sprint is 4.5 seconds with PDK on Sport+, while the manual version is slower at 4.8 seconds. 

Top speed is 263 km/h for the standard Boxster on manual (260km/h for PDK version) and 278km/h for Boxster S on 6 speed manual (266 km/h for Boxster S PDK). Despite the notable performance, fuel efficiency is claimed to be up to 15% less than the outgoing Boxster.

Dimensionally, the new Boxster measures 4,374mm long, 1,800mm wide and 1,280mm tall. This is good 45mm longer and 15mm lower than before. Wheelbase has rise to 2,474mm, 58mm more than before. Despite the increased in size and higher equipment level, an increased in the use of aluminium resulting is weight reduction of around 35kg.

The new Boxster rides on McPherson struts suspension at both end. The electric power steering is of variable ratio type.  The front and rear brakes are four-piston monoblock fixed calipers measuring 315mm and 299mm respectively for Boxster, and 330mm and  299mm for Boxster S. An 18" wheel is fitted to the Standard Boxster, wrapped by 235/45 up front and 265/45 at the back. Larger 19" wheel is standard on the S version, wrapped by 235/40 and 265/40 tyres respectively.

The interior design is one the greatest departure from the current car, with design cues visibly borrowed from its big brother the new 911. The floor console is mounted high, with a crop of switches running along the console. Alcantra is featured in the trimmings. The design is more elaborate with greater detailing than before. The door trim for example is multi-pieces, with door arm rest, grab handle and door inside handle are distinctively finished. The entertainment system is handled via a 7" touch screen unit. The cloth hood is now fully electrically operated with no manual intervention required.

The all-new Boxster is due to be on sale from April 2012. The indicative pricing for the UK version is GBP 37,589 for the Boxster and GBP 45,384 for Boxster S.

More photo of the 2013 Porsche Boxster after the jump.

11 January 2012

2012 Toyota Avanza launched in Malaysia

While the Indonesian market has received the new Toyota Avanza back in last November, Malaysian customer has to wait to two month longer. Now the wait is over, as UMW Toyota has launched the new Avanza today.

The Malaysian market Avanza comes in four variant. The entry level model is 1.3E which costs RM64,590. This version comes with 1.3L engine (91PS,117Nm) paired only to 5 speed manual gearbox. The next model in the line-up is 1.5E, G and S, respectively priced at RM72,590, RM77,290 and RM79,590. The 1.5L engine produced 102PS and 136Nm of power and torque, can paired only to 4 speed automatic transmission.

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For a complete review of the difference in specs between the 1.3L and 1.5L model, together with the rest of technical data, please refer to my previous coverage of the Indonesian launch, as they are identical. Refer to the post HERE .

More update on Malaysian market Toyota Avanza is coming in due course. Now, the only question is, would you choose a local brand with modern monocoque body, with modern turbocharged engine (138bgp/205Nm) driving the wheel via 21st century CVT gearbox, with Lotus influenced suspension tuning, with leather upholstered interior and cost RM79,998 or would you choose a foreign brand with ladder-frame chassis (for layman, it is a lorry like platfrom with two longitudinal beam running underneath along the car), NA 1.5L engine paired to archaic 4 speed auto transmission and has a historic brand name, history and  service excellency? The choice is down to the payer, but for me, staying in history will get me nowhere, instead it is better to make the jump and risky move for an apparent better choice with good chance of getting a good reward for it.

The photo above is from Paultan.

2015 Honda NSX previewed at North American International Auto Show

Remember when Honda said the Avenger's Acura concept car has nothing to do with the new NSX back in October last year? Well, they lied! Honda/Acura has revealed the NSX concept at NAIAS 2012, and it bears more than passing resemblance with the concept car featured in Avenger. For today, it seems that Honda will make a return to supercar arena after retiring in 2005, when the current NSX ceased production.
Just like the retired NSX, the new NSX will be Honda technical tour de force once again. While its forebear rock the world with world's first all aluminium monocoque, titanium conrod among others, the 2015 supercar challenger will feature an advanced powertrain system, dubbed E-SH-AWD. This hybrid drivetrain will feature a highly-tuned V6 engine mounted mid-ship and will drive the rear wheel via dual clutch transmission. The gasoline engine will be accompanied by the twin-electric motor mounted in the front axle, powering each of the front tyres. While Honda is still yet to reveal the total power and torque, it is very likely to trail its European rival to its small-capacity engine, but the electric motor with maximum torque from standstill, combined with lightweight construction, should enable the quick off the line gateway.
Honda has insisted that they are emphasizing high performance through engineering efficiency. Even with the real need to ensure spirited driving experience, the supercar should responds positively to environmental responsibilities. This explained the utilization of hybrid drivetrain and lightweight construction. The chassis is highly like to feature a lot of aluminium and other exotic material, as well as CFRP.

The E-SH-AWD will bring what Takanobu Ito, Honda President and CEO reckoned will make the NSX the ultimate expression of Acura's idea to create synergy between man and machine. The new NSX will make the driver one with the car to enhance dynamic driving abilities without getting in the way. The electic motor mounted up front should improve handling too, as it will permit highly responsive electric torque vectoring.
The decision to ditch the V10 from the originally-conceived NSX concept will enable the new NSX to create its own market positioning within the stiffly fought supercar market. Being a me-too product in the European dominated product segment won't be a good idea, as Honda US R&D Chief, Gary Evert said Honda won't directly take the Europeans at their own game. The advanced hybrid system will make the new NSX such a niche in being a first "green supercar"  with the maximum synergy of technology to deliver supreme driving experience while at the same time being responsible to the environment. More after the jump.

08 January 2012

520i badge makes a return to Malaysia

The badge 520i makes a return to the 5-series stablemate after a long hiatus following the introduction of the detuned 2.5L in the 523i variant of E60 some years back. But the return of the entry level 5-series badge was not accompanied by puny power and torque figure, hence rest assured your F10 5-series will still move, even faster in fact!

The F10 520i Malaysian introduction was accompanied by the 528i M Sport, as well as an enhanced 520d. The gasoline version (520i and 528i M Sport) are both powered by the latest BMW TwinPower turbo technology with the capacity of 2.0L. The new engine features twin-scroll turbocharging, VALVETRONIC variable valve control and Double-VANOS variable camshaft control. For 520i application, the powertrain produced a much respected 184bhp@5000-6250rpm and 270Nm@1250-4500rpm of power and torque. The engine catapult the 520i to 100 km/h in mere 8.0 seconds and to a 226 km/h of top speed. Now that is unheard before in 520i!

The F10 528i M Sport gets the same engine in different state of tune. In this state, it produced 245bhp@5000-6500rpm and 350Nm@1250-4800rpm. The much higher power and torque output results in a much faster car than the 520i, where the 100km/h sprint can be done in 6.3 seconds, and top speed 250 km/h. The difference in performance is very obvious as both cars weigh nearly the same (because the engine is the same). The 520i is  1,685kg while the 528i version is just 10kg more. More detail after the jump.

07 January 2012

Kia Optima K5 - a brief design encounter

Kia Optima K5 replaced the forgettable previous Optima, with more evocative styling and very imposing stance. The sporty stance was attained via a very pronounced shoulder line, shallow glass house, thick C-pillar and large alloy wheels. The headlamps were stretched deep towards the wheel arches, likewise the sharply styled rear light lend a dynamic proportion, elastic-like appearance that ready to pounce anytime.

The Optima K5 landed in Malaysia on 27th of December 2011, right at the year end, to kick-start Naza-Kia Malaysia 2012 campaign right before it even begin. A teaser was published even before the date, establishing sufficient excitement to the public who have been long left without too many choice when it comes to mid-sized executive sedan. As the event unfold, so are the pricing, which was set at an ambitious RM143,888. It is now clear that Kia is intended to break the Japanese establishment not based on pricing alone, but on sheer emotive design, with equipment list that extends to the infinity.

For a start, the front end is dominated by large headlamp, which features auto-leveling HID Xenon, with Static Bending Light, essentially a headlamp that turned synchronized with the steering. The headlamps flanked the latest evolution of Kia corporate grille, which has a high-gloss black surround. Kia badge is prominently mounted up-high. 

The plunging bumper line lends an aggressive fascia expression. This is further accentuated by the LED DRL just above the fog lamp on the outer, lower edge of the front bumper.

Wheel arches are heavily flared, with a pronounced belt-line thanks to a broad spacing between the hood central bump and the fender upper edge. The crisp character line running along the waist is a  reminiscent of the much-loved BMW E60, especially with the side-gills. From this angle too one can see the sculpted wheel arch, a very un-subtle skirting on the sill, and also the arch-filling tyres with 18" alloy wheel. The "technical" look of the wheel does lend some "avant-garde" touch to the overall vehicle aesthetic. Seems that Kia does no wrong these days, especially on its product styling. The hiring of ex-Audi/VW designer is paying off, quickly and surely.

Many, many times, the exterior stylists of the car are more often that not to be infected by either one of these disease. The first one, the front stylist that did not communicate with the rear counterpart, resulting in multi-theme car that disjointed somewhere in between. The second virus on the other hand eats man courage and creativity, resulting in sparkling front end design, only to be gradually mellowed down towards the rear. Kia stylist team, well, are very healthy indeed, with no obvious symptom to any of the disease above. The rear styling is very Germanic in its lighting, solidly stretched to occupy the rear corner in as 3D as it can get. The rear light wrapped the side outer panel and the trunk lid in a very deep fashion. The upward rising bumper mating line, rise all the way into the rear light graphic, and continue to form a trunk character line on the upper lid. The high bumper then was cut back in the middle to cater low loading sill. The side profile of Optima K5 is also garnish with a unique chrome strip that run above the window line. The unusual feature start at the base of the front side window and continue to run along the roof line right to the rear windscreen base. What a stylish car!
One of the most prominent styling region of the K5, the mating point of door to C-pillar shutline, with chrome accent included. The uprising belt-line and plunging roof line result in slim glass-house.
As far as the exterior story is concern, the Kia Optima K5 does make some of its rival (particularly Japanese) appears like a flabby elephant. The tout surfacing is more menacing compared to softie bulge, the hard edge lighting is stronger-looking than heavily contoured out-of-the-body light design and finally the 18" alloy wheel make more sense than the puny 16" alloy wheel that adorn some other 4.9m car. Continue reading for the interior design story.